American Hustle movie poster
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American Hustle
American Hustle movie poster

American Hustle Movie Review

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The director of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook has pulled together an all-star cast - Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence - to make his latest critically praised piece of work. Unfortunately, the praise doesn't match reality.

American Hustle, based on the 1978 Abscam sting operation where the FBI recruited a convicted conman to devise a plan that ultimately revealed the corruption of several United States senators and other prominent officials, excels at times and struggles in others thanks to a sometimes entertaining but often overly loose narrative structure.

Director and co-writer David O. Russell has assembled a nice looking film full of combovers, braless cleavage and Christian Bale's gut. But it never fully hits its stride. The movie plays like a goofier version of a Scorsese crime film, only it still isn't very funny or entertaining. There are bursts of brilliance throughout and it gets better in the final act, but American Hustle is wildly inconsistent. When it's on, it's on, but when it's off, it is incredibly boring.

But hey, the acting is top notch.

In all seriousness, the actors keep American Hustle from being a complete wash. Both Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper are really good, delivering energetic performances that elevate every scene they are in. But it's their female co-stars who really stand out. Amy Adams, looking sexier than ever in low-cut pieces of fabric, is scorching hot in more ways than one. Though she's already been nominated for four Oscars, her performance here is arguably the best of her career.

Even better is Jennifer Lawrence, who sizzles whenever she's given the opportunity. The young Oscar winner isn't given much to do in the first half of the movie, but her character's importance grows as time progresses, and as it does, Lawrence embraces the challenge. She is simply awesome in American Hustle.

Still, the reality remains that American Hustle is not the great follow-up people expected from David O. Russell, or the great film some critics are claiming it to be. The movie would have benefited from tighter editing and a shorter running time. While very good at times, its inconsistency will try the patience of the average moviegoer. And this critic.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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